The Legendary Women Detectives: 6 Classic Novelets

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What it lacks in structure and guile, this enthralling take on 20s America makes up for in vivid satire and characterisation. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos A guilty pleasure it may be, but it is impossible to overlook the enduring influence of a tale that helped to define the jazz age. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner A young woman escapes convention by becoming a witch in this original satire about England after the first world war. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons The book for which Gibbons is best remembered was a satire of late-Victorian pastoral fiction but went on to influence many subsequent generations.

Nineteen Nineteen by John Dos Passos Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller Scoop by Evelyn Waugh Murphy by Samuel Beckett The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler Party Going by Henry Green Set on the eve of war, this neglected modernist masterpiece centres on a group of bright young revellers delayed by fog.

The Tom Fletcher Book Club 2018 Exclusive to WHSmith

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck One of the greatest of great American novels, this study of a family torn apart by poverty and desperation in the Great Depression shocked US society. Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell The End of the Affair by Graham Greene Lord of the Flies by William Golding Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov On the Road by Jack Kerouac Voss by Patrick White A love story set against the disappearance of an explorer in the outback, Voss paved the way for a generation of Australian writers to shrug off the colonial past.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Catch by Joseph Heller This acerbic anti-war novel was slow to fire the public imagination, but is rightly regarded as a groundbreaking critique of military madness. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing Thursday Next lives in a world very similar to our own, except with time cops and pet dodo birds and a society that treats classic literature as cutting edge pop culture.

Top 10 slangy crime novels

Thursday herself is a Literary Detective, but this case is unusual even in her line of work: Jane Eyre has been kidnapped from the pages of her own novel. Thursday's world may be quirkier and more literary than most, but she's one of the most kick ass and well-read lady detectives out there, with a team of increasingly ridiculous sidekicks to boot. Juniper Song from Follow Her Home loves noir fiction. So when she gets a chance to play amateur sleuth, Juniper is thrilled to act out her wildest fantasy.

10 Most Famous Female Detectives in Literature

But then, when she's knocked out while on the case only to find a dead body in her own trunk, Juniper begins to realize that this is not the fun roleplaying game she signed up for. She's not just playing at being detective anymore; this fangirl is going to have to become the real thing if she wants to make it out alive.

Carlotta Carlyle from A Trouble of Fools is a six-foot tall ex-cop turned cabbie, and she's ready to get back into the mystery-solving game.

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Of course, switching to life as a private detective isn't going to be easy, especially not when her first missing person case snowballs into something far more dangerous. But it beats reading her cat's mail, right? Carlotta is a delightful heroine, and her books are peppered with plenty of inspiration by way of Yiddish quotes from Carlotta's grandmother. The death of a teenage girl mirrors the disappearance of her own sister when they were just kids.

Caught between traumatic memories of her past and the assumptions of her clueless white male partner, Lou has one last chance to bring her sister's killer to justice. Plus she also has a group of supportive girlfriends, because not all hardened detectives have to be loners. Look, Miss Marple is great, but she's not the only "little old lady" detective in the world. There's also Gladys Mitchell's Mrs. Bradley , the "ugly," "reptilian" psychoanalyst with the wicked tongue. Bradley is not your cuddly, cozy armchair detective.

She could care less about looking cute or making friends. But she is gloriously mean, ruthless, and effective when it comes to solving murders and throwing shade. Lovely, fashionable Phryne Fisher has been living it up in the Roaring '20s As dangerous as she is desirable, Modesty Blaise is the heroine of the cult comic strip created by writer Peter O'Donnell. I love Modesty because she showed it was possible for a female to do all the things her alpha-male counterparts had been doing.

She's a female James Bond complete with fatal charms, a criminal background and a thirst for adventure, a woman who can out-fight, out-smart, and out-shoot any man.

In stark contrast to her fellow pulp detective, Modesty Blaise, Bertha Cool was neither flirtatious nor ravishing. She was the rotund, irascible, penny-pinching widow who opened her own detective agency in after her husband died.

She was as unsentimental as the hardest-boiled male PIs of her era, but it was pies she had a weakness for, not scotch. Together with Donald Lam, a streetwise disbarred lawyer who becomes her partner, Bertha had incredible longevity and featured in more than two dozen books. This legendary figure appeared in 12 of Agatha Christie's crime novels. While kindly and unassuming, she is also worldly with a mind like a steel trap. I love Agatha Christie. She's the author everyone reads when they're eleven years old and then leaves at holiday houses. She is still one of my greatest influences and my new book is a homage to her.

Like Modesty, she's also a relative orphan, abandoned and abused by a corrupt state.

by Kathy Reichs

On the outside, she is a socially awkward diminutive gothic punk, but smouldering under the surface there's a tough, kick-boxing, Taser-wielding terror. She's as indifferent to physical pain as she is to people, a world-class computer hacker with a fierce intelligence and a photographic memory. A complete original. Annika Bengzton is the creation of Swedish author Liza Marklund.

The 100 best novels written in English: the full list

This journalist heroine is the hardest-headed professional in Scandinavian literature today. A tabloid journalist in several of the early books, Bengtzon becomes a crime reporter after falling upon dangerous situations. The Bomber, which introduced Bengtzon to the reading public, is in my opinion the most powerful crime novel of the last 20 years. I am grateful to Nancy Drew the young amateur detective created by Edward Stratemeyer because she set me — and a lot of other 8-year-olds — onto the path of becoming lifelong crime fiction readers.

Nancy Drew first appeared in and since then the books have been ghost-written by a number of authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.